With the burgeoning app market, creating a mobile application might be the next big step in expanding your business and gaining the most effective app marketing channel, but you are not an app maker and have no experience in app programming software and design – how do you go about making an application? Your options are – you could hire an in-house developer, or an external company, to build your app but perhaps you are a start-up and can’t face the costs of full-blown app development. This is where app builders, or otherwise called app makers, come in.
Applying the philosophy championed by blogging platforms such as WordPress years ago, app makers allow non-coders to design their application with visual interfaces, like in ShoutEm’s case, dragging and dropping pre-coded elements and selecting themes, color schemes and designs. Meanwhile, the app making software “codes” the resulting application in the background, ready for review and publication. Some even go as far as trawling a pre-existing website to import content directly on to the mobile application once your app is made.
One of the first commercially available app builders on the market was Shoutem, which was launched back in 2010, two years after Apple launched its App Store. That was the time when, compared with today’s mobile app standard, iOS apps functionality was really limited and app makers were deemed as the best alternative for businesses who didn’t have a budget to hire an app development company.
A word of caution however: in December 2017, Apple banned apps made from templates from the App Store, only to swiftly backtrack two weeks later when it realised the havoc the decision was wreaking on smaller businesses which don’t have the budget for a fully customised app. Apple’s rules currently read:
4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.
This means you, the app owner, will have to create a publisher account and publish the app yourself, as well as paying the publishing fees ($99/year to open the account, though these were included in some of the app builders below anyway). Many app builders will guide you through this process, while some are still adapting: either way, what it does mean is that you are responsible for the content on the app, which will have your name listed as a publisher.
Besides that little change in rules (which Android has not replicated) advantages to templated apps are obvious: someone with no coding experience can use the app maker to design and launch a functioning application in very little time, keeping full control of the creative process, without paying for an entire development cycle. There are costs, of course: publishing paid-for applications in Apple’s App Store has a yearly cost of $99, while Google Play has a one-time fee of $25 which cannot be avoided. Paid plans provided by such app builders as Buildfire range from $159/month for basic Growth plan to $424/month for the Enterprise plan, when it comes to managed services the price range goes way up – from $999/month to $7,500/month and these prices are in the same ballpark as paying to a hired app development company.
Making an app with pre-coded elements means the majority of them are coded in HTML5, the mobile-friendly language; this means your app is instantly accessible from any mobile web browser, but it does mean if you want apps native to iOS and Android, hiring a company to make your app from scratch might be the best way to go. Indeed, few companies (such GoodBarber) offer native apps “out of the box”.
Some of the app maker software is also available if you wish to create and sell applications as a business: SellMyApp and Appypie all offer a price plan to become resellers using their software platforms.
However, for a small-to-medium sized company looking to enter the mobile market, these concerns might be secondary, and there are a number of app builders out there who will make the perfect mobile application for their needs.
Today the most sophisticated app builders offer a number of features on top of the basic app building ones, such as reporting, testing, debugging, consulting, educational programs and more.
Here is the list of the best app builders you can use to create a mobile app for your brand.
List of app builders and app makers
- 500,000+ registered users
- 10+ years on the market
- 10,000 + published apps
- Collaboration tools to build apps by a team
ShoutEm is a powerful tool to create mobile applications which asks no coding skills of the creator. From content to advertising, from e-commerce to social apps, the platform provides you with a simple drag-and-drop interface to create the application, and gives you the tools to preview it natively and in real time. While basic apps are coded in HTML5, the scaling price plans also allows for native apps in iOS, Android and iPad.
ShoutEm also offers analytics tracking for your application, keeping tabs on active users, sessions, shout outs, check ins and more data points, as well as including a content management system, a variety of modules to monetize your users such as promotions and advertising.
- Automated publishing to App Store and Google Play, free republishing and updates
- 4-tier price plan covers all levels of customization for your app
- High profile clients include T-Mobile, USA Today and Digital First Media
Native apps Progressive Web App Builder for eCommerce and Content Management.
GoodBarber is an app builder created in 2011, delivering a tool which allows to create robust and powerful apps, with the best design and user experience out there. With GoodBarber, you can make native iOS apps, native Android apps, and Progressive Web Apps, which are the latest, most advanced mobile technology. The platform can be used by a wide range of projects and organizations—from local businesses, to radio stations, to magazines, to non-profits, and more. Digital agencies are also a main user of the platform, taking advantage of the solid, reliable technology and flexible customization options to make and sell apps to clients via the white-label reseller program.
With 30,000 apps published with the platform, GoodBarber is a tool you can trust with your business’s digital identity. Not only will end-users enjoy the top-notch design options and a wide range of features that can be added to the app, but the app creator will be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to use the back office to create and maintain an engaging application. Given the indispensability of a mobile presence, no business should have to decide between breaking the bank or having a low-quality app—that’s why GoodBarber’s mission is to give everyone access to the opportunity to create an exceptional product worthy of representing them.
- Allows to build a shopping app with offline payment system, local delivery by zip code, in-store pickup, time slots, store locator, push notifications, discounts, one-click checkout, permanent cart, quick share and more.
- 30,000+ apps are built with the platform
GameSalad is a free, drag and drop game creation engine for the development of iPhone, iPad, Android, Tizen & HTML5 games. Using GameSalad developers can test games on Apple devices (no coding required) and publish games to the App Store. The engine is also powered by a complex behavior library to enable creative freedom for game designers. Plus to business objectives, GameSalad team has a noble goal to enable anyone to engage with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and learn Computer Science through video game creation.
One of GameSalad’s main features is it’s testing tool, the In-App Previewer, which can be used to test game logic and behavior sets. Its web publishing system allows for quick and easy cross-platform publishing to supported targets including iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, Nook, Windows 8 and Mac desktop. Developers can also instantly publish games to the HTML5 powered GameSalad Arcade
- Create, test and publish iPhone, iPad, Android, Tizen and HTML5 games
- In-App Previewer to test game logic and behavior sets
- Cross-platform publishing available for ebook readers, Windows 8 and Mac desktop
Fliplet is an enterprise-focused app making solution designed to make mobile applications for your business without any knowledge of coding or programming. Once your app is designed with a simple click-and-edit browser interface and using a number of ready-made templates, it can be shared internally in your company or via the Fliplet Viewer application.
Fliplet’s pre-coded features are built around the needs of a company, and include sales and marketing features such as client proposals and project overviews, as well as suites of features for event organizing, project management, promotion and others. Apps can also link to external PDFs or websites and can always be customised to make navigation and use as easy as possible.
- Free plan to build an app for a small number of users
- Team plan (from 65 euro per month and up)
- Enterprise plan (from 1,300 euro per month and up)
- Manage privacy and access settings, deciding which employees can access which app
- Audio and video streaming supported, as well as visualization of charts and graphs
- Return to Office app built in collaboration with 25 customers that businesses to return to the office after COVID-19 lockdown.
Appy Pie is a mobile app-development software platform with the aim of minimizing the amount of coding you have to do yourself. The software is entirely cloud based and requires no installation. The Appy Pie team is on a mission to democratize mobile app development process and let small companies access quality app development building tools cheaper than hiring an outside app development team would require.
Its basic service is free, but will only produce games and apps compatible with HTML 5. The paid versions of the program will add iOS and Android support, remove Appy Pie branding from your application and include other features such as push notifications, real-time updates, and analytics, depending on the price plan.
- Drag-and-drop interface means no coding skills required.
- Four different price plans to only pay for the support you want.
- Paid version always provides customer support and one-time free submission.
- The entire app building process takes only 3 steps.
AppsGeyser is a web platform that allows converting any web content into an Android App in 2 easy steps. It is a Android-only codeless application development platform that lets users create template-based mobile apps based on content pulled from webpages. The AppsGeyser tool is easy to use and bundles social sharing, tabs, messaging and full support for HTML5 enhancements.
On top of the free plan, it offers 3 paid plans – Master ($10 / month to remove ads and get a number of extra features, including premium support), Business ($10 / month for the same features as the Master plan minus support) and Individual plan ($5 / month for the Master plan set of features).
- The platform can pull content from webpages, YouTube channels, RSS feeds and other sources
- Create an app in 3 simple steps and you’ll be ready to monetize it in no time
- Choose your own themes and templates from a wide selection
- On average 7,000+ apps being created with AppsGeyser daily
- To date 6,000000+ apps were created with the platform in total
Zoho Creator is a low-code app development platform that lets you launch custom, mobile-ready apps. Create your own applications to automate workflows, internal processes, and manage databases.
Zoho Creator offers a first of its kind drag-n-drop interface to create tables/forms, design, schedule workflows and perform a variety of automated actions.
Zoho Creator’s powerful tools for data collection and management, analysis, reporting and collaboration for small to large organizations to run their business online, without any additional costs, infrastructure, or software.
Zoho Creator is used by more than 2 million users, and 3 million apps have been already created. Don’t let complex looking workflows and business rules scare you.
- Used by well known brands such as Whirlpool, Audible
- Zoho Creator app builder has 7 million users
- Workflow automation
Swiftic‘s solution to app building comes with the standard drag-and-drop interface but adds a suite of tools for monetization of your application.
Strongly business-oriented, it comes with a wide knowledge base and dedicated support teams, a highly customizable price plan and a 30-day money back guarantee, though its yearly plans do not include publishing costs to the App Store and Google Play.
- Monthly plan ($39 / month), Yearly plan ($33 / month – paid once a year), 2 Year plan ($29 / month – paid once every 2 years)
- Over 25 features
- Push Notifications
- Coupons & loyalty cards support
- Promotional toolkit to attract new customers
Sellmyapp.com is one of the first marketplaces for buying and selling mobile source code. The marketplace strives to enrich and push the mobile developer community to innovate by offering a wide variety of options to make new income streams as a mobile developer.
- Sellmyapp produces a Win Win situation by allowing newcomers to the industry as well as medium range developers to purchase quality tested source codes by high quality responsive authors.
- This allows a simple and quick buying process that allows the buyers to focus on their launch tasks.
- The marketplace also has a team of experienced mobile developers to perform any code customization that is needed to reach the best result possible. The team has experience of more than 5 years in serving customers in the niche and generates only the best quality of graphics and usability.
- Any project size is possible to fulfil and hundreds of projects were already successfully executed to satisfied customers.